Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jan's Updates July 9, 2012

Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates  July 9, 2012

For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us at face book.

To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information

To email your state legislator:          

For information on the state gas legislation and local control:

Please Cut and Paste All Links-(they work erratically)

All Township Residents—Call to Action !!

**Lawsuit Filed --Resolutions of  Township Support Urged

      Please contact Jan for a copy of a resolution supporting the lawsuit against Act 13.  Act 13 precludes the use of local zoning to restrict gas operations in residential areas, restricts doctors in sharing important health data, and limits counties in the use of the impact tax (a partial list).
HOW WE CAN HELP:  Please print the resolution and take it to your next township supervisors’ meeting to request their support for this lawsuit. Supervisors should return the signed resolution to Brian Coppola and also to your state representatives.

Sample Statement: See our Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group blogspot, for a sample statement to supervisors. (Address is listed above)

Good references on Act 13:
Handout on Act 13 by Penn Future (short version)-
Delaware Riverkeepers Basics About Act 13
Penn Future on act 13 (detailed version)

Calendar of Events


            People from around the country will rally in Washington on July 28 for the first national protest against the use of hydraulic fracturing. Marcellus Protest has done a fine job in reserving a bus that will leave Lawrenceville PROMPTLY at 8:00 am and return at 10:30 pm. SPACE IS LIMITED, so buy your ticket NOW. Discount price $25 till July 15. After July 16 price is $35. Some scholarships may be available. See Rally schedule below.

2:00pm Rally

Location: The West Lawn of the Capitol

This is the big day; we are organizing to get as many people as possible! We have people coming from Texas, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, and even Australia. There will be at least three busloads from Pennsylvania.

3:30 pm March

Location: The Streets of DC

After getting pumped up by our awesome speakers, it’s time to hit the streets. We will make a special delivery to the American Petroleum Institute and American Natural Gas Association. They say fracking is good for our water, we say nay and have the water to prove it!

 An update from Gloria:

Buy your tickets NOW if you want to join us on the bus to DC.

Space is limited!  

Discount price $25 til July 15.

After July 15 price is $35

Tickets sold by credit card ONLY.

**We have a bit of $ to help pay for tickets for those who cannot afford the $25 - contact me:  gtforouzan (at)

Buy your ticket here:

Among the sponsors of this, the largest anti-fracking event ever, are Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks, NRDC, and the national Sierra Club. Activists from Western Pennsylvania will be interested to know that the rally in Dc will be the concluding event for the ‘Tour de Frack’ cyclists who will have ridden from Butler PA.

***Potluck -- Hosting the Tour de Frack at Cedar Creek Park

Westmoreland Potluck Dinner on Monday, July 16, 2012 at Cedar Creek Park, Smithton, PA, Westmoreland County Pavilion #17

We will begin our celebration between 5:30 and 6:00 pm.
Let us know what you would like to bring and
Let us know if you would like to carpool!
Bring your musical instruments and we can serenade them on their way to DC.  

Here is a lot more info:

Directions to the Park and Map of Park to find Pavilion #17.RSVP Wanda Guthrie or call 724.327.2767 or 412.596.0066.

***Clean Water Camp-Mt. Watershed

                Mountain Watershed Association is hosting a fun-filled Clean Water Camp in Ohiopyle on July 17th from 2-5 PM to learn about protection and celebration of clean water resources and honor the Tour de Frack riders who'll be staying the night at Ohiopyle State Park on their way to our nation's capitol to share their water stories. Call Melissa at 724-455-4200 ext. 6# or email with questions.

*** Westmoreland County Commissioners will conduct public   meetings to solicit comments on how to spend Marcellus shale impact  fees.

                        The meetings will begin at 6 p.m. on:

            • July 9 at Westmoreland County Courthouse, Main Street, Greensburg

            • July 10 at Washington Township Municipal Building, 289 Pine Run Church                                        Rd

            • July 23 at Mt. Pleasant Township Municipal Building, 208 Poker Road

            • July 26 at Rostraver Township Municipal Building, 201 Municipal Drive

            • Aug. 13 at Derry Township Municipal Building, 5321 Route 982

                                                YOU MUST REGISTER TO SPEAK


***Take action to stop the export of gas-  (from Food and Water                     Watch)

                 Do you know what's even less patriotic than polluting America's water for decades to come? How about polluting our water to sell cheap fracked gas to China?

                That's right. It's bad enough that oil and gas companies are polluting our water and making people sick with fracking, while telling us that fracking is the route to energy independence (it's not). But they want to take that fracked gas, and sell it overseas.

                There are two bills in Congress right now that could help stop them from exporting oil and gas produced by fracking. Tell your representative to co-sponsor these bills and help fight fracking.

*** Take AcTtion-- Write to Legislators on the Bucks/Montgomery  County Exemption

            Link to how they voted, please thank those who voted No and work to un-elect those who voted Yes.  All PA state reps are up for election this November:

For Legislators Information:

--go to roll call vote

Sample letter from one of our group:

            “Deep thanks to those among you who had the interests of the people of Pennsylvania -- not the Oil and Gas industry -- in your hearts and minds when voting on the exemption of Bucks and Montgomery from Act 13 this past weekend. Thank you.

            The rest of you have some soul-searching to do; your actions reveal either willful ignorance and/or contempt for the future of your constituents and the state we all call home. Your grandchildren will ask you what you were thinking when you facilitated the degradation of their inheritance...our water and air, and the beauty of this state.

            Continuing to act as though short-term, self-serving choices have no long-term, irreversible consequences -- ones that we won't be able to design our way out of -- is an arrogance we simply can't afford, Legislators.

            Wake up, smell the air, taste the water; make them your priority. Without them, no jobs will matter, ultimately. We can't drink money.

            The future will judge you by the integrity of your votes, not based on the size of wallets enriched by corporate contributions.

*** Take Action to Protect Public Lands

            I fully support the BLM's decision to update rules for oil and gas extraction on our public lands -- a revision which is long overdue. The technology used to extract oil and gas has advanced rapidly and regulations to protect our health and environment have not kept pace, putting our communities and wild lands at risk from dangerous chemicals, air pollutants and waste products.

Fracking Quotes

***    "There was a time when they were eager to throw you a bone," he said. "But when it's over, it's over." Rick Bailey, Johnson County commissioner speaking of the need for funding to fix the roads ruined by frack trucks.

***  What makes Bucks and Montgomery [counties] so special?  We were here four months ago under the guise of, we had to have uniformity, we had to have consistency, we needed to be fair," Rep. White speaking on the exemptions from Act 13.

***   "Defendants, experienced in these operations, were well aware of the connection between injection wells and seismic activity, and acted in disregard of these facts," says the suit, filed by the Little Rock class-action firm Emerson Poynter LLP.

***Before, when I dumped water in, they drank it right away. Now they wait four or five hours before they drink it,” Leo Shanlay talking about his water quality after the incident in Tioga County.

Frack News

1. On the Injustice of Buck-Montgomery Exemption

            “Opponents cried foul at the inequity this provision creates in the Commonwealth, affording residents in two southeastern Pennsylvania counties to have moratorium language, while in the rest of the state local communities have no control over controversial gas drilling and the effects of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

Jesse White--    “Where was our study? Where was our six years?” asked state Rep. Jesse White, who represents communities in the heart of drilling country in southwestern Pennsylvania. “What makes Bucks and Montgomery [counties] so special?  We were here four months ago under the guise of, we had to have uniformity, we had to have consistency, we needed to be fair," Rep. White noted. "And now, four months later, we're saying, 'Maybe, for whatever reason, we're going to give a few people a pass.'"

            We seem to have leadership in Harrisburg that believes in different rules for different people,” stated Brian Coppola, Republican Supervisor for Robinson Township in Washington County.  Act 13 sounded like a good idea to some of the eastern state senators until they found out it applied to everyone throughout the state. Now they’re trying to protect themselves from it.”

Deron Gabriel--Deron Gabriel, Township Commissioner for South Fayette Township in Allegheny County went on to state, “Act 13 poses a very real threat to all Pennsylvania residents, and ties the hands of municipal officials who were elected to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents.  Now the legislature has evidently seen fit to delay drilling in two politically connected counties.”

Myron Arnowitt--Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action stated, “Most voters in Pennsylvania don’t believe we should have a separate and unequal system for gas drilling.  Every community deserves to be able to protect itself from drilling.  Once again our state legislators need to go back and fix their unfair treatment of residents living with gas drilling.”

From: Fairness becomes the new Battleground over gas drilling

CONTACT:       David Masur, PennEnvironment (267) 303-8292

                        Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action (412) 592-1283

                        Tracy Carlucio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network (215) 692-2329

                        Jeff Schmidt, Sierra Club (717) 232-0101

2. And More on the Bucks –Montgomery Exemption

(Walter Brasch has been doing an outstanding job of covering fracking issues. Here’s an excerpt from another of his op-eds. Jan)

Pennsylvania Politics Continues to Trump Health and the Environment

           The first question to the Republicans is, "Why do you support a state law that discriminates against the rural counties, while you support a special exemption that protects the health and welfare of the urban and suburban counties that have many of the state's most powerful and wealthiest constituents, including the head of the Department of Environmental Protection and the lieutenant governor?"

          The second question is, simply, "How much more money will it take to continue to buy your loyalty to corporations, the powerful, and the affluent?"


Pa. Political contributions:

3. Sky Alerts on Gas activity/Problems in Your Area

You can sign up to receive notifications and alerts. This is one of the best sites I have used because it is easy and the alerts are sent for the area you choose.  

 4. MarkWest Tries to Override Cecil Twp. Gas Ordinance Despite the Injunction

(Gas companies are chomping at the bit to override local ordinances. Jan)

            MarkWest has asked Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court for a preliminary injunction to prevent Cecil Township from enforcing its oil and gas drilling ordinance.

            The company argues that the ordinance violates Act 13. However, the zoning portions of Act 13 are not due to go into effect until mid-August due to a suit filed by Cecil and other communities challenging the constitutionality of the law.”

5. Fracking Spill of 4700 Gallons  

Hydrochloric Acid in Leroy Twp.

          The DEP is overseeing the cleanup of a 4,700-gallon hydrochloric acid spill that occurred at a Chief well pad in Bradford County. DEP said the incident caused a minor fish kill.

            The cause of the spill appears to be caused by valve failure on a tank holding the acid, which then flowed off the well pad. The incident remains under investigation, according to Daniel Spadoni, DEP community relations coordinator.

             "Some of the acid was collected in a sedimentation pond, while the remainder flowed through a field and some reached a small tributary to Towanda Creek causing a minor fish kill," the release said. "Dams were constructed in the tributary before any acid reached Towanda Creek."

            The spill comes two weeks after a thirty-foot methane geyser erupted near a Shell natural gas well in nearby Union Township, Tioga County.

Leroy is the same township where a Chesapeake well suffered a 10,000-gallon fracking fluid blowout in 2011.

(Read the entire story from StateImpact Pennsylvania.

6.Cows Won’t Drink the Water-Tioga County

            “If you go looking for evidence of Shell’s methane migration problem in Tioga County, as StateImpact did, you won’t be able to see the 30 foot geyser of water and natural gas. First, the flow has been reduced to a few feet over the course of the last week. Second, the company has blocked off access to the site.

            What you can see, though, are the large, loud flares burning off gas at nearby pads. They’re part of an effort to reduce underground pressure and bring methane leaks under control. “We’re seeing that brings down — it depressurizes — the gas that could be contributing to migration in the immediate area,” said Shell spokeswoman Kelly de Weegh.

            For farmer Leo Shanlay, who lives a bit more than a mile from where the problems are occurring, evidence that something might be amiss came from his cows. Shanlay’s nine calves won’t drink any water from his drinking well. “Before, when I dumped water in, they drank it right away. Now they wait four or five hours before they drink it,” he said, standing in front of an idling tractor. The calves started losing interest in his well water on Tuesday. They’re happy to drink the water his uncle trucks in from another site, though.”

 (Pictures at the stateimpact site show 3 wells being flared simultaneously to control the methane, releasing toxins into the air.)

7. Blockaders Stop EQT Fracking Operation

to Protect Moshannon State Forest-

Marcellus Earth First!

by Iris Marie Bloom, 7-8-12

            “Blockaders in Moshannon State Forest in western Pennsylvania have shut down a fracking well pad run by EQT Corporation, as of July 8th.  At 12:45 pm Marcellus Earth First reported, “SITE COMPLETELY SHUT DOWN!  All six workers on site have been escorted off site by police.  The workers were very friendly and people talked with them extensively.” (150 protestor blocked the access road for fracking trucks to the EQT rig. Some of the protestors were sitting in trees others, built the road blockade. Debbie)

            This is at least the fourth known blockade in the state of Pennsylvania, as the nightmares unleashed by fracking intensify. The full life-cycle impacts in PA so far have ranged from dead animals and sickened people to unbearable noise, contaminated water, polluted air, exploding and burning compressor stations, homes exploding from methane migration, to truck accidents, destroyed roads, massive sedimentation and erosion problems, illegal dumping of fracking waste, and legal dumping of toxic radioactive brine on roads for “dust suppression.” As impacted communities and their allies organize, as people recognize that we are running out of time to stop runaway climate change, and as the scientific research showing that fracking is worse for climate than coal becomes more widely understood, a broader, deeper and better organized movement is developing.”

              “Having grown up enjoying Moshannon State Forest in so many ways, I am absolutely appalled at the ongoing destruction. The once narrow and inviting oak-shaded lanes are now being replaced by dust and traffic choked roads for chemical laden trucks – there are no words to describe the injustice of taking public land, meant to provide a source of beauty and wilderness for all and turning it into an industrial zone.” said Jenny Lisak.”

8. EPA Urges DEP to Strengthen General

Permit 5 (GP 5)

            (From Clean Air Council who is doing an absolutely outstanding job of trying to protect our air. Jan)

            Clean Air Council attorneys were at the PA Air Quality Technical advisory committee meeting where they were provided with comments from EPA Region 3 on general permits.

            1. EPA noted that the general permit fails to contain federally enforceable emission limitations.  The limitation must be contained in a permit that has undergone public participation

            2. EPA also urged DEP to consider the cumulative impact from numerous GP5s on attaining and maintaining air quality standards. (Again! EPA keeps recommending and the DEP keeps ignoring, jan)

            3. Also, EPA stated that startup, shutdown and malfunction emissions cannot be exempt as contemplated in the GP5.

            4. EPA recommended providing more explicit guidance on what must be included in the greenhouse gas calculations that applicants are responsible for.


9. Legislators Want to Change DEP

Permit System              
   from bob

          “PA lawmakers want to change the permit system so that some permits, if not reviewed in the 60 day time period, will never be reviewed by DEP and others will be reviewed only by private contractors.

            “Under the provisions of House Bill 1659, sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Pyle, R-Armstong, DEP would have 60 days to review any final permit application. If DEP missed that deadline, the permit would automatically be granted. The bill also instructs DEP to “implement a plan to use qualified nondepartmental employees” to review applications”    (That’s code for private companies evaluating permits. bob).

10.  Leasers Beware-Change in DEP Spill


From Bob

        “DEP has a new draft policy.  Previously if DEP learned that a gas company or its contractor spilled waste on private property, DEP inspectors had the ability and often did make sure the spill was cleaned up and the contamination was removed from the site.


            But under the new policy, DEP makes clear that any spill more than something very small (42 gallons) will be cleaned up using the risk-based standards of Act 2. That means that if you are the leaser of property and a gas company contaminates your soil or groundwater, the DEP will not ensure that contamination is removed from your property — it will only make sure the company does what is necessary to meet the risk-based standards under Act 2. As a result, property owners who plan to lease land for gas development should know that the DEP will not be there to ensure your land remains as clean as it was before drilling. Anyone who plans to sign a lease with a drilling company may want to consider the impact of this policy, and whether to add language to the lease that enhances the cleanup of pollutants released onto their land or groundwater.”

 11. N.C. Rep. Accidentally Votes for Fracking

            Rep. Becky Carney –D, cast the deciding vote to support fracking by accidentally pushing a green button at her desk. She wrongly voted to override a veto by North Carolina’s Democratic governor. Under state rules, legislators can change their votes if they make a mistake, but only if the changed vote wouldn’t affect the result.  Carney’s was the 72nd person to vote for the override, the exact number needed to do so.


            Carney, burst into tears after mistakenly voting with Republicans to override Gov Perdue’s-D veto of the contentious legislation. “It feels rotten,” Carney said, in an interview. “It’s a very heavy responsibility because I just feel like the state is not ready.”

12. Class-Action Suit over Earthquakes

Caused by Frack Disposal Wells

              What may be the first class-action suit against oil and gas companies for unleashing earthquakes as strong as magnitude 4.7 is in the federal courts in Arkansas.    This prompted state officials last summer to ban drilling waste disposal wells in a 1,150-square-mile area. Four wells ceased operations.

            The plaintiffs and their attorneys say the companies knew about the risk of earthquakes from their operations but did not do enough to prevent them.

"Defendants, experienced in these operations, were well aware of the connection between injection wells and seismic activity, and acted in disregard of these facts," says the suit, filed by the Little Rock class-action firm Emerson Poynter LLP on behalf of Stephen Hearn and several other residents of Faulkner County, Ark.+

          There is no federal law against causing earthquakes, but the suit alleges that the quakes were caused by negligence, amounted to trespassing and created a public nuisance (EnergyWire, June 18).

            Before two of the wells stopped operating in the spring of 2011, there were 85 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or higher. Since the shutdown there have been fewer quakes, according to the state Geological Survey.”

13. Acute Ozone Linked to heart Attacks

            “Young, healthy adult volunteers exposed for two hours to ozone developed physiological changes associated with cardiovascular ailments, according to a small study reported in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal.

            Study participants showed evidence of vascular inflammation, a potential reduced ability to dissolve artery-blocking blood clots, and changes in the autonomic nervous system that controls the heart’s rhythm. The changes were temporary and reversible in these young, healthy participants.

            Recent epidemiology studies have reported associations between acute exposure to ozone and death but little is known about the underlying pathophysiological pathways responsible.” (Stone hearth news, study by Robert Devlin, EPA s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Lab in NC)

(This study contributes to an understanding of  how ozone works physiologically to harm the body. The concern is that we already have orange ozone days too frequently and fracking will add tons of ozone precursors to the air. jan)

14. Chesapeake Appears to Have Colluded with Encana

            “Aubrey McClendon, as chief executive (he is now CEO) for Chesapeake   failed to disclose up to $1.1 billion in personal loans borrowed against his share of company oil and gas wells under a unique company program that gave the former chairman a 2.5 percent stake in the profits of thousands of drilled wells.

            The company was rocked anew last week when the news agency disclosed a series of email exchanges in which McClendon and other Chesapeake executives appeared to collude with officials at EnCana Corp., Canada’s largest gas company, to suppress the price of land leases in Michigan.

            Reuters reported on Monday that the Justice Department has launched a probe into whether these communications violated laws against price fixing.”

15. If you haven not seen the Josh Fox video “Sky is Pink” yet--

            The film is called "The Sky Is Pink" because it is talking about the fracking "debate." This is a tactic of misinformation that has been employed for a very long time, going back to the tobacco industry in the 1950s. A PR firm called Hill & Knowlton decided to push out bogus statements and bogus science saying cigarettes are not bad for you, that medical reports about how it leads to diseases like cancer were not true and were exaggerated, and they created doubt in the public's mind.

As long as there was doubt, people continued doing the things they were addicted to. The same strategy has been employed by the gas industry, and in fact, the very same PR firm employing this strategy, Hill & Knowlton, was employed by the American Natural Gas Alliance in 2009. And the idea here is, "We're going to seed doubt; we're going to say this is naturally occurring methane; we're going to say the science is in question," when in fact they know full well that the science is not in question. It helps maintain our addiction to fossil fuels.”


16. Texas Road Problems Due to Drilling Trucks

              The new wave of oil and gas production, has taken a huge toll on the state's roads. The Texas Department of Transportation told industry representatives and elected officials that repairing roads damaged by drilling activity would "conservatively" cost $1 billion for farm-to-market roads and another $1 billion for local roads. And that doesn't include the costs of maintaining interstate and state highways.

             "We need $2 billion, and the shortfall is $2 billion."

            Now that drilling activity has slowed significantly, the big operators are gone and small subcontractors are hauling salt water and drilling mud, often making it difficult to get anyone to cover road maintenance costs, said Rick Bailey, Johnson County Precinct 1 commissioner.    "There was a time when they were eager to throw you a bone," he said. "But when it's over, it's over."

            Six years ago, 90 percent of the roads in his precinct were in good condition. Now about 60 percent are, he said.

Drilling trucks have caused an estimated $2 billion in damage to Texas roads, 6 02, 2012 BY BARRY SHLACHTER

17. Chesapeake--- 1% Tax Rate       

            “Chesapeake Energy Corp. made $5.5 billion in pretax profits since its founding more than two decades ago. So far, the second-largest U.S. natural-gas producer has paid income taxes on almost none of it. Chesapeake paid about 1 percent of the cumulative pretax profits during that period, data compiled by Bloomberg show.     

            While Chesapeake is the biggest U.S. oil and gas producer with such low tax payments, it’s far from alone. Range Resources Corp. paid income taxes of about 0.4 percent of pretax income over the past decade, the data show. Southwestern Energy Co. paid 2.1 percent and EQT Corp. paid 5.3 percent, the data show. The U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent.”

18. Mark West Rail Load Out in Westland, SW PA

Nearby MarkWest plant separates gas liquids

for truck and rail shipment

-sorry, having trouble transferring pics. ...see newsletter

PA DEP document: “The initial rail load-out will allow for the transfer of up to 402 million gallons of natural gas liquids, with the potential to emit an estimated 4.53 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 24.63 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), 9.85 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC), 1.03 tons of hazardous air pollutants (HAP), and 9,387 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.”

All photos by
Bob Donnan


MarkWest facility with new flares and pipelines